Saturday, October 1, 2016

Hissein Habré: A Chadian Tragedy (2016) New York Film Festival 2016

HISSEN HABRE is a look at the survivors of Habre, the infamous leader of Chad who seized control of the country in 1982 and lead a regime that left the country scarred  and brutalized.

Filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun follows survivor Clément Abaïfouta as he travels across the country talking to survivors and perpetrators in order to tell the tale. Its a brutal story revealed in the words of those left to tell the tale.

This is not a story for the fainthearted. Playing sort of like a combination of SHOAH and the work of Joshua Oppenheimer,  HISSEN HABRE is largely people looking into the film telling us what happened. It is an accounting of the dictators crimes against humanity and it sickens and crushes the audience.  While the film ends on a hopeful note, Habre was sentenced to life in prison in May, the film still one that will leave you feel broken for days.

You will have to forgive me. One can not really review a film like this. One can tell you if it is effective or not but one can not really critique it. How can you critique pain and suffering? Where with SHOAH one could discuss a variety of topics relating to it, and with Oppenheimer's two films you can ponder his framing of the story and his misdirection of the interviewees , here there is only the witnesses and their pain. There is nothing that can be said because there is nothing to say. We must bear witness to the tales so that, perhaps, this will be little less likely to happen.

Highly recommended for those who will bear witness to the crimes and not remain silent.

The film plays October 4 and 5. For Tickets and more information go here.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Nathanael Hood travels to MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (2016) New York Film Festival 2016


There was a lot of nervous laughter at my press screening of Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. Most of it was there by design; Lonergan deftly injects moments of awkward comedy throughout this devastating character study of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a Boston janitor who returns to his eponymous hometown following the sudden death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler). Much of the film occupies the stilted moments in between traditional story beats, the forced niceties with the doctors who tell you your brother is dead, the strained search for your parked car after visiting the funeral home. There’s a fantastic bit where, after a horrific tragedy which I will not spoil, paramedics put Lee’s ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) on a stretcher. But as they try to put her in the ambulance, the damned thing keeps malfunctioning. They struggle for a time to hoist her up, failing again and again until Lee has to run over and help. In the hands of a lesser director, this would have been painful slapstick. But here it’s so natural that one can’t help but recognize such absurdities from life itself.

But I think some of the laughter was mere self-defense: Manchester by the Sea may be an exploration of Lee’s grief, but in doing so Lonergan holds a mirror up to the audience and forces us to see reflections of the darkest moments of our own lives. To say Manchester by the Sea is emotionally exhausting is laughable—it’s cataclysmic. Seamlessly alternating the action with flashbacks, Lonergan creates a three-dimensional portrait of suffering and loss. Affleck is a revelation: he hasn’t been this wounded, this damaged since his performance in Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007). Here he displays a raw physicality, his whole body moving and fidgeting as his face remains stoic and stone-like. Here is the kind of acting that made Marlon Brando a legend.

The film isn’t perfect. What begins as a character study expands to include Lee’s guardianship of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Like Lee, Patrick is on a fast-track towards emotional isolation and detachment. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their common need for lashing out physically. But whereas Lee gets drunk and starts bar-fights with strangers, Patrick takes his emotions out in the hockey rink and in the bedrooms of his two girlfriends. There’s an odd sequence that focuses on Patrick’s disastrous attempts to get to home base with his second girlfriend. Unlike the aforementioned stretcher scene, these scenes are played like slapstick comedy; the girlfriend’s mom repeatedly knocks on their door at inopportune moments, forcing them to scramble to get dressed and pretend like they were doing math homework. Eventually Patrick even enlists Lee to help him score by distracting the girlfriend’s mom. In addition to being tonally at odds with the rest of the film, these scenes relegate Lee to being a background character in his own story. After the screening, Lonergan gave a brief Q&A. I wanted to ask him if these scenes were meant as simple comedic relief or if they demonstrated how Patrick was emotionally distancing himself from the world, but I never got picked to go up to the microphone.

But I’ll give Lonergan the benefit of the doubt. Despite my gripes, Manchester by the Sea is paralytic in power. Affleck gives what could be the defining performance of his career. During the Q&A, Lonergan mentioned how originally the film was supposed to star and be directed by Matt Damon. I don’t want to impugn Damon’s considerable talents, but I don’t think he would have been the right fit for this film. He’s simply too pretty. You take a look at Damon’s face and all you see is Hollywood. But Affleck looks like he could very well have lived a hard, blue-collar life full of love and loss. In the world of this film, he’s positively organic.

7/10

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA plays at the NYFF on October 1,2 and 11. a Q&A with the director follows the screenings on the second and 11th. For tickets and more information go here.

Joe Bendel explains why I CALLED HIM MORGAN (2016) is one of the absolute must sees at the New York Film Festival

I don't know how many of you know Joe Bendel and his writing, but you should. Joe is writer for  Epoch Times, Libertas and his on website JB SPINS (bookmark that last one you need to be checking it every day). He is also a good friend whose opinion I trust completely. 

This morning when I checked my email I found that Joe had emailed me and asked if I would do him a favor and post his review of I CALLED HIM MORGAN at Unseen Films. Because of the way that things shook out at the festival very few members of the press were getting a chance to see a film that blew him away and Joe was afraid that as a result word would not get out about a film he calls "the top priority" at this year's New York Film Festival. Because Unseen was set up to highlight films that might get lost and because I trust Joe completely I instantly agreed to rerun the review. 

Here now without further adieu I give you Joe Bendel's review of I CALLED HIM MORGAN

Since the early days of New Orleans until the early 1950s of Hard Bop, trumpeters were the Gabriels of jazz. Just think of Louis Armstrong’s golden tone or the supernaturally fleet articulation of Dizzy Gillespie. Lee Morgan was cut from a different cloth. You could hear plenty of grease and snarling attitude in his horn. His devilish sound also scored him some unprecedented crossover success. Yet, his tragically public demise will always define his all too brief life story. Swedish documentarian Kasper Collin revisits the music and the man through the memories of the woman who shot him and the rival who stoked her jealousy in I Called Him Morgan (trailer here), which screens during the 54th New York Film Festival.

Evidently, Morgan’s common law wife Helen never cared for the name Lee. Hence the title. We hear this directly from the source herself in the spectral-sounding audio tapes of an interview Ms. Morgan granted jazz radio host Larry Reni Thomas mere weeks before her death. Offering no excuses and seeking no sympathy, she tells her story matter-of-factly, but her overwhelming feelings of regret are immediately evident.

Collin (who also helmed the equally sensitive My Name is Albert Ayler) gives viewers the broad strokes of Morgan’s career, starting with his discovery in Dizzy Gillespie’s big band, his rise to prominence with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and his glory years as a vintage Blue Note Records recording artist. Along the way, label co-founders Albert Lion and Francis Wolff get their just due for producing the classic sessions that would largely define the Hard Bop style.

However, the film is really centered around a forensic reconstruction of Lee and Helen Morgan’s imploding relationship. Initially, all his musician friends thought they were a good match, giving her credit for helping Morgan get clean and supporting him while he rebuilt his reputation. Yet, the film takes a heavy turn when she starts to describe how their romance turned to resentment. Like a Hard Bop Rashomon, Collin presents the events of that fateful night both from her perspective and that of Judith Johnson, the third side of Morgan’s love triangle (albeit a rather chaste one, according to her testimony).

Indeed, Collin relates the events of that ill-fated blizzard-battered night with eerie inevitability. Frankly, ICHM is an unusually impressionistic film, featuring dreamy noir cityscapes that aptly match Collin’s musical selections. Clearly, he has a preference for Morgan’s modal period (tunes with gently explorative harmonies) over his boogaloos (in this context meaning up-tempo Hard Bop tunes constructed over a strong rhythmic vamp). In fact, Morgan’s greatest hit, “The Sidewinder” is never heard during the film. (In this case, “greatest hit” is no exaggeration for a tune featured in a Chrysler commercial.)

Shrewdly, Collin also incorporates quite a bit of Wolff’s celebrated session photography. In addition to many striking black-and-white images familiar to fans from classic Blue Note album covers, Collin includes some surprisingly light-hearted candid shots that should only further burnish Wolff’s photographic reputation.

Collin scored sit-downs with a number of Morgan’s contemporaries, including Wayne Shorter, his legendary bandmate in the Messengers, as well as his own prominent sidemen, including Billy Harper, Jymie Merritt, Larry Ridley, and Bennie Maupin. However, the great Harold Mabern, a born raconteur if ever there was one, is conspicuously but perhaps not surprisingly absent. Reportedly, he still found it difficult to discuss Morgan’s death four decades after the fact, so presumably his feelings have not changed (which we should respect).

Regardless, ICHM is a starkly stylish and deeply humane film. It is that rare bird among music documentaries that has such considerable merit as a film in its own right, it should assure continuing awareness for Morgan’s music. Very highly recommended, I Called Him Morgan is far and away the top priority film at this year’s NYFF, which will screen it this Sunday (10/2) at the Walter Reade and Monday (10/3) at the Francesca Beale

Dawson City: Frozen in Time (2016) New York Film Festival 2016

Somewhere about the time that Bill Morrison was explaining how Dawson City was responsible, in a way, for Ken Burns and his style I started to quietly sob at the back of the Museum of Modern Art's screening room. Somehow Morrison's marriage of film, photos, music and history completely overwhelmed me and I started to cry.  There was nothing particularly moving about the notion (though one of the first things I wrote in my notes was a comment that it played like a Ken Burns film) rather it was a combination of the unearthly beauty hitting me with the odd sadness that this place, that was the end of the line was for some, was, in it's way, a key factor in the development of the film industry - though no one knows it. To me, who loves film probably above everything else, it was a moment where I realized that if it wasn't for this small town movies might have been different. (As well as history since the family fortune for the Trump family started in the whorehouses of Dawson City).

This isn't to say that you will be moved to tears by the film, I have my own odd sense of history and deep love of film and how the film struck me is my own reaction. On the other hand the film is a glorious technical achievement and deeply moving on it's own terms. While I have no trouble calling it one of my favorite films of 2016, I also have no trouble saying that the film is one of best of the best films of the year as well.

Nominally the film is the story of the discovery of a cache of hundreds of nitrate film reels that were buried on the site of an old swimming pool in Dawson City. For the films that played the city's cinemas this was the end of the road, literally. Two three or five yeas into their run the studios didn't want to pay to have them shipped back from the middle of nowhere Canada, so the studio told the town to destroy them. Some were dumped into the Klondike river, some were burned and the lot they found were used as land fill. Forty years later they were dug up and a treasure was discovered.

But Morrison isn't interested just in the films, but the city and all cinema as well, so flashing back from the discovery he tells us the story of the town- and the people who lived there and traveled through it- and in the process tells us this grand interrelated story that stretches all the way to Hollywood and beyond.

The most amazing thing is that there is almost no spoken words. Its almost all text. The images are mostly the found nitrate prints mixed with another cache of still photographs. Morrison  blends them all together to create a cinematic poem that goes right  past the conscious into the subconscious where it affects us like a dream. One drifts off on the sound and images as if on a trip. I've never seen anything remotely like it - except in Morrison's other films.

When the press screening ended those of us at MOMA staggered out into the light trying to make sense of this world of color. One writer corralled the PR person for the film and began to plead for a screener for the film. "PLEASE" he implored, "I need a copy of the film. I have to write on it and there is so much to say I have to reference the film while writing". There was an urgency in the pleading that said to me that there was more a need to see the film again and again much like a junkie needs a fix.

And there really is too much to say. Here is a film that is operating on several different levels- its histories of the found films, of all film and of the town. It is an examination of the cinematic viewing habits of people. Its a film about reality and fiction. Its a film about morals. Its a film that you can talk about for several days and still have twice as much left to go over. I'm still trying to work out where to begin talking about it.There is so much to say that I'm completely certain that many doctoral thesis will be written about this film.

Later in the day I ran into another writer who was at the screening and she was left shaking her head by the film. Yes she enjoyed it. Yes the film moved her, but the film also frustrated her because she realized late in the film that she had been taking notes incorrectly. What she was noting wasn't the what she should have been noting, instead the film was much more complex and much more amazing than she had first thought. There were things, emotions and thematic elements she should have been noting instead of the cold hard facts.

Seeing DAWSON CITY is one of those moments where you realize you've seen something truly special and the universe changes before you.

Please find time to see it big because the images and the music are over powering- they will leave you feeling you never need to take drugs because the film will transport you. See it big because the effect of seeing this small will not be the same.

What can a film do? When it's DAWSON CITY it can do anything you can imagine including alter how you see the world.

DAWSON CITY FROZEN IN TIME is likely to be one of the best films you'll see all year - it was for me.

DAWSON CITY plays October 2nd and 4th at the New York Film Festival. For tickets and more information go here.

Nathanael Hood is rocked by Ken Loach's I DANIEL BLAKE (2016) New York Film Festival 2016

For the first time in my life, I literally tasted bile in my mouth while watching a movie. It was right around the time in Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake when the the titular character, a 59-year old joiner forced to navigate the UK’s impenetrable healthcare bureaucracy after being declared “Fit to Work” after suffering a serious heart attack, gets help from a friendly government agent to fill out his online paperwork. Despite literally helping him click just few buttons on a website, she gets called into her boss’ office and chewed out for “setting a precedent.” A precedent for what? Doing her job? Helping the people the taxpayers pay her to help? The answer: not following “protocol.” It was so simple, so stupidly unnecessary, so needlessly cruel that it literally made stomach acid shoot up my throat into my mouth where it sat and curdled for the rest of the day. I’ve laughed and cried at many a movie. But few have inspired such a violent physical reaction as I, Daniel Blake.

To say it’s Loach’s best film in years, if not decades, is not understatement. Here is a film with the outraged fire of youth curated with the skill of a master craftsman. With mechanical, almost surgical precision Loach lays out the succession of humiliations and indignities foisted upon Daniel (Dave Johns). First he gets declared “Fit to Work” by the government despite being declared unfit by his doctor. Then the medical bureaucracy forces him to fill out a number of obtuse forms he can’t understand on a computer he can’t use. Then the paperwork is declared immaterial since he didn’t get his “Fit to Work” status confirmed by an enigmatic “Decision Maker.” Then when he finally gets the needed confirmation, they tell him he can’t get his benefits without a CV—a preposterous demand for a man who’s spent 40 years as a laborer. There’s always one more form to fill out, always one more course to take. It all reminds me of the backwards government bureaucracy in Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru (1952)—it seems designed not to help people but to get them to give up.

During one of his fruitless visits to the government offices, Daniel meets a single mother named Katie (Hayley Squires) with two small children who’s moved 300 miles away from their home in London after getting thrown out of their flat by a cruel landlord. He takes them under his wing, doing odd jobs around their house as well as slipping them the occasional £20 for the heating. A scene where Daniel takes Katie to a local food bank ranks among the most heart-breaking in recent cinema—the entire theater audibly gasped during it. And things only get worse from there when she turns to desperate measures to put food in her children’s mouths.

I, Daniel Blake leads up to a predictable, melodramatic climax complete with dramatic speech chastising the government. But it felt earned. It’s by far his most overtly political film, by far his angriest and most direct. Whereas before Loach was content enough to observe, here he accuses. His audience is clearly the people in power who strip honest citizens like Daniel Blake of their lives and livelihoods. Here’s hoping they listen.

9/10

Jia Zhangke's THE HEDONISTS (2016) New York Film Festival 2016


Jia Zhangke's latest film is a brief film that is playing as part of the international block of shorts at the New York Film Festival. Made as part  of BEAUTIFUL 2016 anthology film. Its good enough that I'm left to wonder why the other parts arent screening as well

The film has several miners getting laid off and being forced to find a new job. The trouble is that they are all middle aged guys with limited skill sets so they have to try things they are not suited for including body guard for a big shot (played by Jia Zhangke) and costumed actor at a period amusement park.

A frequently laugh out loud film this is one of Zhangke's best most enjoyable films. Filled with sly humor and gorgeous crane (or is it drone ) shots this is a film that looks spectacular. There is also a sense that the director is having fun with a playfulness one doesn't always see in his work.

Of course the film does have a serious side since it's clear its a commentary on the state of China's changing economy  and not just a comedy about a bunch of guys looking for work.

If there is a downside to the film at all is that it doesn't end so much as stop. When the end credits came up I stared at the screen quizzically wondering why the film ended there since there seems to be more to tell. I'm left to ponder if perhaps like many up and coming filmmakers Zhangke made the short in the hope of getting funding for a feature. You may think that is nonsense, but it's not since when I saw the director last year at NYFF he talked about the difficulty of getting funding for his projects.

Abrupt ending or no the film is good enough to take a shot and try the International Auteurs collection the film is playing in at NYFF. Highly recommended.

The film plays October 1st and 2nd at the New York Film Festival. For tickets and more information go here

In Brief: Brillo Box (3 Cents Off) (2016) New York Film Festival 2016

Director Lisanne Skyler recounts the story of the Andy Warhol yellow Brillo Box sculpture that her parents bought 40 years ago for $1000 and which recently resold for over $3 million. In the process we get a sense of the course of the art world over the last 50 years.

Light and breezy film is an enjoyable romp. It’s a film that puts a smile on your face as we can't help but chuckle at how things went down, beginning with the launching point of how Skyler's father, who used art as not only decoration but investment, decided to trade up and did a deal for a painting of an artist named Peter Young (who?).

As much as I like the film, and I like it a great deal, I can't help but think that this could have been something more. There is some sort of larger story here about art and the world. Yes the film covers some of it, But there are threads that seem to be hanging, notions of how art fits into the world and how collectors drive the market or shape tastes. I suspect that the film’s 40 minute run time which puts it awkwardly between a feature and a short is responsible for that. Frequently I wanted to know more, about her parents collecting, of Warhol from their view, and just more of what some of the experts were talking about.

And please don't read that as my disliking the film, rather see it as my liking the film so much that I want to see more. I would have liked a more complete meal instead of this nibble that left me still hungry.

Ultimately though recommended at NYFF and when it eventually plays on HBO

The film plays as part of the New York Film Festival Documentary Shorts collection on October 3 and 4. For details and tickets go here.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Middleburg Film Festival Unveils Main Slate of 2016 Films with Narrative, Foreign and Documentary Films

I know I've been posting a great deal on film festivals but the stuff I'm seeing at various festivals is cross pollinating at other festivals. When I got the  following press release earlier today I realized that I had to post it because it shows that people away from the major cities can see the big films too. Middleburg has a large number of films that are playing the New York Film Festival and a bunch more that should have been. Its such a good  festival that if you're in or near Virginia you should make an effort to go and see these films on a big screen.

LION to Open the Festival on October 20

Henry Jackman to Be Honored as the 2016
Distinguished Film Composer

Middleburg, VA, September 29, 2016 - Middleburg Film Festival's Executive Director Susan Koch announced today the main slate of films for the 2016 festival. The festival opens Thursday, October 20 with Garth Davis' feature film directorial debut LION starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, and Rooney Mara. Special guests will be in attendance for a conversation following the screening.

The festival's Friday Spotlight selections include MOONLIGHT (DIR Barry Jenkins), starring Naomie Harris, Janelle Monáe and Mahershala Ali and MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (DIR Kenneth Lonergan), starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler. Kelly Fremon Craig makes her feature directorial debut with THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN, starring Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson.

As previously announced, LA LA LAND, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, will screen as the 2016 Centerpiece selection on Saturday, October 22 with Oscar-nominated director Damien Chazelle in attendance.

LOVING, from director Jeff Nichols, will screen as the Sunday Morning Spotlight selection. In 1958, Mildred and Richard Loving (Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton) were arrested and sentenced to prison for getting married. She was "colored" and he was white - and that was a crime in the state of Virginia. Their case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in a landmark decision in favor of the Lovings.

The festival will also screen six foreign language submissions to the Oscars, including films from Italy, Chile, Germany, Iran, Denmark, and Spain.

Henry Jackman will be honored as this year's Distinguished Film Composer with a live performance of his most memorable scores performed by the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra and The Freedom Choir. Jackman's featured works include THE BIRTH OF A NATION, CAPTAIN AMERICA, MONSTERS VS ALIENS, PUSS IN BOOTS, BIG HERO 6 and THE INTERVIEW. A conversation with Jackman will take place between the musical selections.

"We are thrilled to share some of the year's best films followed by thought provoking conversations with festival attendees," said Middleburg Film Festival Executive Director Susan Koch. "The 2016 program includes a mix of Oscar contenders, critically-acclaimed foreign language films and compelling documentaries."

"We look forward to welcoming festival attendees to the fourth year of Middleburg Film Festival," said Middleburg Film Festival founder Sheila C. Johnson. "We have an exceptional film slate this year, featuring the work of a diverse and very talented set of filmmakers. We're delighted to showcase the work of first-time directors as well as acclaimed filmmakers from all over the world."

Middleburg Film Festival runs from October 20 to October 23 in Middleburg, VA and is located just a short one hour from Washington, DC.

The Coca-Cola Company returns as Middleburg Film Festival's Presenting Sponsor. The Washington Post returns as Middleburg Film Festival's Founding Media Sponsor.

For more information, visit: www.middleburgfilm.org.

Follow us on Twitter @middleburgfilm and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/MiddleburgFilmFestival.

Middleburg Film Festival 2016 Program

Opening Night

LION
Director: Garth Davis
2016, 120 minutes
Country: Australia
Genre: Narrative
Five-year-old Saroo gets lost on a train in India and must survive on the streets before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later he sets out to find his birth family and finally return to his first home.

Friday Spotlights

THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
2016, 102 minutes
Country: USA
Genre: Narrative
Kelly Fremon Craig makes her directorial debut with a hilarious and charming coming-of-age dramedy about Nadine, a high school junior, whose life goes from bad to worse when her best and only friend begins dating her older brother.

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
2015, 136 minutes
Country: USA
Genre: Narrative
In MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, a solitary Boston janitor, played by Casey Affleck, confronts his devastating past when he returns to his hometown to take care of his teenage nephew.

MOONLIGHT
Director: Barry Jenkins
2016, 111 minutes
Country: USA
Genre: Narrative
MOONLIGHT chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

Saturday Night Centerpiece

LA LA LAND
Director: Damien Chazelle
2015, 126 minutes
Country: USA
Genre: Narrative
LA LA LAND evokes the romance and nostalgia of old Hollywood in this innovative musical about an aspiring actress and a jazz musician who fall in love in Los Angeles.

Sunday Morning Spotlight

LOVING
Director: Jeff Nichols
2016, 123 minutes
Country: USA
Genre: Narrative
In 1958, Mildred and Richard Loving were arrested and sentenced to prison for getting married. She was "colored" and he was white - and that was a crime in the state of Virginia. Their case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in a landmark decision in favor of the Lovings.

Main Slate

AMERICAN PASTORAL
Director: Ewan McGregor
2015, 108 minutes
Country: USA
Genre: Narrative
Based on the Phillip Roth novel, AMERICAN PASTORAL follows an all-American family across several decades, as their idyllic existence is shattered by social and political turmoil that will change the fabric of American culture forever.

AQUARIUS
Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho
2016, 145 minutes
Country: Brazil/France
Genre: Foreign Language Narrative
Clara is the last resident of the Aquarius, a two-story building built in the 1940s. She refuses to leave as real estate developers try to drive her from her home.

CUSTODY
Director: James Lapine
2016, 104 minutes
Country: USA
Genre: Narrative
The lives of three women are unexpectedly changed when they cross paths at a New York Family Court.

DISTURBING THE PEACE
Directors: Stephen Apkon, Andrew Young
2016, 83 minutes
Country: USA
Genre: Documentary
DISTURBING THE PEACE follows former enemy combatants - Israeli soldiers from elite units and Palestinian fighters, many of whom served years in prison - who have joined together to achieve peace.

THE EAGLE HUNTRESS
Director: Otto Bell
2014, 87 minutes
Country: USA
Genre: Documentary
THE EAGLE HUNTRESS follows a 13-year-old girl as she trains to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter.

FIRE AT SEA
Italy's submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 89th Academy Awards
Director: Gianfranco Rosi
2016, 108 minutes
Country: Italy/France
Genre: Documentary
The documentary captures life on the Italian island of Lampedusa, a frontline on the European migrant crisis and the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants hoping to make a new life in Europe.

GRADUATION
Director: Cristian Mungiu
2016, 128 minutes
Country: Romania
Genre: Foreign Language Narrative
Romeo, a respected surgeon, is willing to compromise his integrity to ensure a better future for his teenage daughter and allow her to escape their bleak life in Romania after she graduates high school.

I, DANIEL BLAKE
Director: Ken Loach
2016, 100 minutes
Country: United Kingdom / France / Belgium
Genre: Narrative
After suffering a heart attack, Daniel Blake, a carpenter, is unable to work. Seeking state assistance, he encounters endless bureaucracy and strikes up an unlikely friendship with a struggling single mother.

JULIETA
Spain's submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 89th Academy Awards
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
2015, 99 minutes
Country: Spain
Genre: Foreign Language Narrative
After a chance meeting, Julieta, a broken-hearted woman living in Madrid, decides to confront her life and the loss of her daughter, whom she hasn't seen in thirteen years. Based on short stores by Alice Munro.

LAND OF MINE
Denmark's submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 89th Academy Awards
Director: Martin Pieter Zandvliet
2015, 101 minutes
Country: Denmark
Genre: Foreign Language Narrative
As World War II comes to an end, a group of young German POWs are captured by the Danish army and forced to defuse and clear land mines from the Danish coastline.

THE MAN WHO SAW TOO MUCH
Director: Trisha Ziff
2015, 88 minutes
Country: Mexico
Genre: Documentary
THE MAN WHO SAW TOO MUCH is about famed Mexican photographer Enrique Metinides who documented crime scenes and accidents. He discovered that the fate of others was his way of connecting to life.

NERUDA
Chile's submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 89th Academy Awards
Director: Pablo Larraín
2016, 108 minutes
Country: Chile
Genre: Narrative
An inspector hunts down Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, who has become a fugitive in his home country for joining the Communist Party.

PATERSON
Director: Jim Jarmusch
2016, 118 minutes
Country: USA
Genre: Narrative
Paterson is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. Every day, Paterson adheres to the exact, simple routine - walking his dog, having one beer, and writing poetry.

THE RED TURTLE
Director: Michaël Dudok de Wit
2015, 80 minutes
Country: France / Belgium / Japan
Genre: Animation
A man marooned on a desert island tries desperately to escape, until one day he encounters a strange turtle that will change his life.

THE SALESMAN
Iran's submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 89th Academy Awards
Director: Asghar Farhadi
2016, 125 minutes
Country: Iran
Genre: Foreign Language Narrative
After their apartment is damaged, a young couple living in Tehran, is forced to move into a new place. An incident linked to the previous tenant will dramatically change the couple's life.

SONITA
Director: Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami
2015, 90 minutes
Country: Germany / Switzerland / Iran
Genre: Documentary
18-year-old Sonita, a refugee from Afghanistan now living in Iran, dreams of being a famous rapper. Her family has a very different future planned for her.

THINGS TO COME
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
2016, 100 minutes
Country: France / Germany
Genre: Foreign Language Narrative
Nathalie teaches philosophy in Paris and is married with two grown children. When her husband suddenly announces he is leaving her for another woman, Nathalie must reinvent her life.

TONI ERDMANN
Germany's submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 89th Academy Awards
Director: Maren Ade
2014, 162 minutes
Country: Germany
Genre: Narrative
Without warning, a father decides to reconnect with his adult daughter. Believing that she has lost her sense of humor, he decides to fix this by surprising her with a rampage of jokes.

About Middleburg Film Festival

Middleburg Film Festival offers four days of fantastic films in a spectacular setting, only 30 minutes from Dulles International Airport and just one hour from Washington, DC.

A carefully curated selection of narrative and documentary films will screen in an intimate theatre environment, followed by fascinating Q and A's with world-renowned filmmakers and actors. The films include Oscar contenders, festival favorites, foreign films, regional premieres, and both narratives and documentaries.

Festival attendees will also be able to experience the natural beauty, food, wine, and warm hospitality of Middleburg.

Lin-Manuel Miranda to appear at a special screening of MARY POPPINS at the United Palace Theater October 16

I am posting this less because of Lin-Manuel Miranda and more because the Untied Palace theater is a cool place to see a concert or a movie. An old movie palace it was a vaudeville house and a church.

Lin-Manuel Miranda to Join the Iconic United Palace Theatre in Washington Heights to Screen Original ‘Mary Poppins’ on October 16

Launches Campaign ‘Reawaken Wonder at a Timeless Movie Palace’

Additional upcoming special film events at United Palace Theater include: Juan of the Dead, The Wizard of Oz and It’s a Wonderful Life

Lin-Manuel Miranda continues his longstanding support of movies at the United Palace in Washington Heights with a $100K donation for a new DCP projection system that will produce a Hollywood-quality image. He will debut the new projector on October 16 with a screening of the original Mary Poppins, which he will introduce. The classic 1964 Disney movie has been selected because later this year Lin-Manuel Miranda is temporarily relocating to London to begin shooting Mary Poppins Returns.

Audience members at the United Palace on October 16 will have an opportunity to say bon voyage to Miranda, to thank him for his support, and to join with him in helping the Palace launch Reawaken Wonder at a Timeless Movie Palace – a fundraising campaign to revitalize the classic movie-going experience. The goal is to raise an additional $300,000 to upgrade the United Palace audio system and complete the rebirth of the iconic movie theatre that originally opened in 1930 as the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre. In addition to the kick-off event with Lin-Manuel Miranda, there will be a series of activities at the United Palace during the fall and winter, as well as an Indiegogo crowd-sourcing effort to engage the community and complete the campaign.

A native New Yorker, Miranda’s personal experience dates back to memories growing up in the same neighborhood as the Palace. In 2013, he brought the five-year anniversary concert of the critically acclaimed “In the Heights” to the venue. He also played a more formal role as ‘volunteer host’ for a succession of movie “mash-ups” alongside the likes of Rita Moreno for “West Side Story” and John Landis to introduce “King Kong.”

“There is no other theatre like United Palace in New York City, or around the world, really. This theatre is special. It’s breathtaking. You don’t just come to sit and watch a movie here; you are transported. The full movie-going experience always leaves me mesmerized,” said Miranda during a recent photo shoot on the main stage. “As a Northern Manhattan native, local resident, and film lover, I am proud to continue to help revitalize this timeless movie palace.”

Before the movie there will be a champagne toast with Lin-Manuel for a limited number of people who donate at least $1,000 to the campaign. They will also be invited to a backstage after-party and receive other Palace-related perks.

When the Reawaken Wonder at a Timeless Movie Palace campaign concludes, United Palace will have a comprehensive sound upgrade installed and will celebrate with a blockbuster rescreening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the last film screened in the United Palace in 1969 before the venue was purchased by Reverend Ike. The goal is to officially unveil the theatre upgrade in early 2017.

The remaining fall schedule of movies includes:
Zombie panel and Juan de los Muertos AKA Juan of the Dead on Sunday, October 30, 2016
The Wizard of Oz with Lou Lumenick and Tiffany Vazquez on Sunday, December 11, 2016
It's a Wonderful Life with Donna Reed's daughter Mary Owen on Sunday, December 18, 2016

About United Palace of Cultural Arts
The United Palace of Cultural Arts (UPCA) is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2012 as an arts and cultural center at the United Palace, a transformational organization and venue that fuses culture, spirituality, and entertainment in Manhattan's 4th largest theatre. UPCA is dedicated to strengthening the mind and spirit through creative expression and play. As a community resource, we provide access and exposure to progressive programming, including cultural events, arts education, movie screenings and community space that empowers the individual to nurture the artist within and emboldens children, adults, and families through exploration and open exchange.

Tickets for the October 16 event are available at www.unitedpalacearts.org.

A Journey Through French Cinema (2016)* New York Film Festival 2016

The first part of Bertrand Tavernier look at French Cinema as it shaped his life.

Striving to be a Bertrand Tavernier's version of Martin Scorsese's look at cinema A JOURNEY THROUGH FRENCH CINEMA starts with the first film that stuck with him and then spins out in largely random way the various filmmakers, actors and composers who influenced him- Becker, Gabin, Renior, Carne, Eddie Constantine (yes!) Godard, Melville and others. Its a rambling almost stream of consciousness trip which ends with the promise of a second and perhaps third edition with all the people he left out.

A very messy film that is in desperate need of an editor, the film has some truly stunning moments (the Melville sequence) and some snoozers (I can't tell you I kind of fell asleep) alternating seemingly at random. Sequences that give new light on certain directors are followed by people most have never heard of who aren't really put into context other than Tavernier likes them.

I loved parts, I hated parts and mostly I felt as thought the 3 plus hours was 3 times that.

For fans of French cinema only- all others need not apply.

The film plays Saturday and Sunday at the New York Film Festival. For tickets and more information go here.

(*FYI: the promotional material lists the title as MY JOURNEY while the print I saw bore the title A JOURNEY. Since the print is marked a A JOURNEY I'm going with that.)

Battle of Algiers (1966) New York Film Festival 2016

The New York Film festival is screening a new restoration of the film- however thats not the best reason to see it- the best reason to see it is it is a great film. The film ran last year as part of the 2015 New York Jewish Festival and I reviewed the film then. Here is my review

Banned off and on since it's release by a variety of governments The Battle of Algiers is one of the great treasures of cinema that you'll end up watching over and over again simply because its a great thriller. That the New York Jewish Film Festival is running it as part of their War Against War sidebar is a treat since it's a chance to see the film on the big screen the way it should be seen.

The film is the story of the Algerian uprising in the late 1950's that eventually led to the countries freedom from France. the focuses on a group of freedom fighters over the course of several years.

I don't know how much I should say abut the film. I don't know how much needs to be said. For me the film is just a great thriller/war film.The fact that the film pissed off the French and is feared by some people in various governments who see it as a blueprint for revolution only adds to the films mystique.

Actually I think the key point about the film is that it really is a good film. Its a film that once you see it, once you get past all of the pretentious bullshit about the film being a classic... being one of the greatest films of all time... basically once you kick the pedestal out from under it you realize that its a good film. Its actually one of the few films on the supposed all time great films that I'd just put it on for the hell of it. I watch it because I want to munch popcorn while watching a ripping good yarn not because I want a "great" film.

If you've never seen it go see it

If you've only seen it on the small screen go see it big

If you've seen it big go see it again

This film kicks butt

2307 Winter's Dream (2016) LA Indie Festival

Three hundred years in the future when the world had been frozen solid after a meteor strike man has retreated under the snow and the ice. With not enough people left the scientists have manufactured humanoid workers,mules because they are biological creatures unable to reproduce, to do the heavy lifting. However one named Ash cut a baby out of a woman's belly and ran off to start a rebellion. Five years later, Commander Bishop, father of the baby, is pulled out of his drug addled haze and asked to lead Spartan Seven team to track down the rogue Ash. Of course nothing is as it seems.

This is a kind a of pulp science novel of a film. Like the thousands of cheap novels turned out by genre publishers 2037 is a film that borrows all sorts of plot elements from all sorts of sources (BLADE RUNNER to begin with) to make an enjoyable hybrid that is entertaining. I mention  pulp novels because  I could run a long list of other science fiction films that 2307 borrows from, I'm mentioning it up front because that's going to be the first thing you notice. Frankly the film has so many references in plots and visual echoes, that any science fiction fan is going to find it somewhat distracting, at least for a while. Its a kind of scifi's greatest hits and it's hard not to tick off the references in your head. However once you get about 20 minutes in and the cast ends up on the ice you get caught up in the action and the story as the film skates along at a fast enough clip that you stop counting the references and just ride to the end.

And once the film is in motion 2307 is a solid little science fiction action film. Yea the film is riffing on other films, but at the same time its carving out a niche for it self because it becomes compelling and entertaining. You really do want to know where it's all leading to. Hat I like about the film is that while I could guess where some of it was going there were a number of twists I didn't expect which made it a nice surprise.

Best of all as the film went on I forgave the films early short comings. The low budget worked to the films advantage since the world outside is so low tech it makes sense.  Even the uneven acting of a couple of actors stopped mattering as the performances became character traits.  In the end the only thing that I couldn't forgive is the overly emotive reading of the narration which tries way too hard.

The best thing about this film is I actually want to see it again, I've also actually shot off a couple of emails to friends to keep an eye out for it.

As I've said the film isn't perfect, but its like one of those pulp novels, it tells a good story, transports you to another world and keeps you turning the pages until the end. The best thing about it is it will entertain you make you feel like you haven't wasted your time watching it. Tagging along as Bishop and his team chase Ash across the ice is most definitely a trip worth taking.

2307 WINTER'S DREAM premiered at the LA Indie Festival on September 16th where it won the Best Direction Award

It will next screen at the Buffalo International Film Festival on Saturday October 8 at 10:15 pm and at the Orlando Film Festival on Friday, October 21 at 9:30pm. 


I expect it to have a long life after that.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Battlefield at BAM Next Wave 2016

BAM presents Peter Brook's reduction of his epic 9 hour MAHABHARATA which played BAM several decades ago and was subsequently filmed and turned into two films, a full length one and shorter three hour version.

Battlefield is a revised 70 minute segment focusing on what happened after the massive war that killed millions. As the dead are collected the new king wanders the battlefield looking for solace and guidance.

To say that the first half of the play is one of the most moving things I've ever seen is a gross understatement. The simple explanation of the cost of war kicked me to the curb and back with it's eloquence. Equally moving is the shows discussion of grief and guilt on the part of the survivors and especially those who called for the war. It is as timeless a piece of writing and theater as anything I've ever experienced.

The problem for me is that in the final third the play loses it's focus. What was a wonderful rethinking of the epic play spins out as we jump through time as we see what happens to characters and we get the appearance of Gods and beings that were fine in the full epic, but here distance the play from today. We were not brought into a world of gods at the start and their sudden appearance weakens the universality of the first part of the piece. Worse it drones on too long to the point I had to stifle laughter when the river goddess appeared with a shriek that caused a large number of the sleeping blue hairs in the audiences to suddenly wake up.

I really liked it, but I wanted to love it.

If nothing else it has me searching for the DVDs of the full show.

Battlefield plays through October 8. For tickets and more information go here.

In Brief: Milton's Secret (2016)

MILTON'S SECRET is a nice little film about a boy who is being bullied at school and ignored by his parents. Things change when his grandfather comes to stay with them for a while as grandson and grandfather help each other to be better people.

Well made and well acted film is a nice time passer. I'm sure that some  people will find something in the various messages about how to live and against bullying, and they are fine, even if they are the same sort of thing that has appeared in any number of similar films.

What makes the film stand out is Donald Sutherland's performance as Milton's grandfather.An off center guy who is still reeling from the loss of his wife five years earlier Sutherland creates a character that manages to be rounded enough that he doesn't seem as though he was picked up at the used character store. While Sutherland has been known to walk through some recent performances, here he seems to care with the result is he makes the film something worth seeing.

While this is probably not a film you need to see at the multiplex, unless you are a fan of the book it comes from, MILTON'S SECRET is a going to be a good choice to see on VOD on a night when you can't stomach the thought of the latest big budget Hollywood film.

MILTON'S SECRET hits select theaters and VOD Friday

Milwaukee Shorts: Gift of Gab

A short film about Timothy "Gift of Gab" Parker a rapper who returned to the studio when his kidney's failed and he found the time and desire to write again.

Short biography that needs to be turned into a feature film. Parker is a fantastic subject who is speaks wonderful words of wisdom. Watching the films six minutes whiz by one can't help but think how much more there is to find out about Parker.  I knew nothing of Parker or his music, but I'm intrigued enough to want to know more

The highest praise I can give this film is that I sincerely hope that the film not only get seen by everyone but also leads to a feature film.

In Brief: FLOCK OF DUDES (2016)

I hate to say this FLOCK OF DUDES is charming as all hell and a complete and utter surprise of the best kind. I wanted so much to hate the film so I could turn it off and then move on to something else but instead I fell under its spell and was carried along straight on to the end...and then was tempted to give it another go right away (that last part is a rave).

The plot of the film has 30 something man boy Adam getting into deep crap with his girl friend when what is supposed to be a quick drink with his buddies ends up a bar crawl on barcycle that ends with him showing up trashed at the restaurant where he is supposed to meet his girlfriends parents. He is dumped and he decides that its time for the gang to break up and for everyone to become adults.

And you know where this is going... because there is nothing new here and you won't care because the film is so damn charming you can't help but smile...and stay with it despite wanting to go off and watch something else/

Surprisingly well written with a cast of well known and not so well know faces FLOCK OF DUDES doesn't do anything new, but it does it so well you really don't care. This is the sort of a movie that you watch once, like, then catch again on TV and watch again...and again and again. The guys and gals in the films become like family and suddenly you have a new favorite film.

I have to say that the reason the film works is that the script and the cast (Chris D’Elia, Bryan Greenberg, Eric Andre, Brett Gelman, Jeff Ross, Melissa Rauch, Marc Maron, Jamie Chung, Hannibal Buress, Kumail Nanjiani, Hannah Simone, Skylar Astin, Hilary Duff, and others) make all of the characters the sort of people we'd hang out with. Sure they can be jerks at times, but basically they are good people who we like.

High art? Hell no. Entertaining, absolutely.

Recommended.

Opens September 30th in Los Angeles at Laemmle Noho 7
Opens October 7th in New York at City Cinemas Village East
Available on iTunes September 30th

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Our quote appears in the trailer for the awesome DESERT CATHEDRAL

Inde Memphis has announced it's full slate of films (November 1-7)

This is the press release I just received for the full slat if Inde Memphis. Its a kick ass slate and another one that has me considering making a trip- realistically I can't but I'm considering it.

A quick note I've removed all of the short film titles from this release. As you know I have nothing against shorts, rather it was a huge list of just titles and  there is no way to know what the films are.(I would not have cut them if there was descriptions). If you want more details please go to the festival website at  www.indiememphis.com

I will have a curtain raiser with links to all the films we covered closer to time. 

Prichard Smith’s THE INVADERS is the Opening Night selection, and Stephen John Ross’s KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE is the Closing Night title

World Premieres include Mike McCarthy’s DESTROY MEMPHIS, Kathy Lofton’s I AM A CAREGIVER, Madsen Minax’s KAIROS DIRT & THE ERRANT VACUUM,  Flo Gibb’s MENTALITY: GIRLS LIKE US, and Lakethen Mason’s VERGE, with Jennifer Anderson and Vernon Lott’s THE ACT OF BECOMING making its U.S. Premiere

Festival favorites include Sophia Takal’s ALWAYS SHINE, Kirsten Johnson’s CAMERAPERSON, Kelly Reichardt’s CERTAIN WOMEN, Zach Clark’s LITTLE SISTER, KENNETH Lonergan’s  MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Jim Jarmusch’s PATERSON, and Keith Maitland’s TOWER

Memphis, TN (September 26, 2016) – The Indie Memphis Film Festival presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc., (November 1-7) has announced its full slate of films for the 19th edition of the annual festival this year. Prichard Smith’s documentary THE INVADERS, executive produced by Craig Brewer opens the festival, while Stephen John Ross’s documentary KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE bookends an impressive slate of 185 films (51 features, 93 shorts and 41 music videos), including 5 world premieres and 1 U.S. Premiere.

According to Indie Memphis executive director Ryan Watt, “This year’s lineup of films offers about as much variety and scope as one could hope for in a single film program. Festival programmer Brandon Harris has been fortunate to secure many of our favorite films we have seen throughout the year as well as discoveries for our feature's competition. Shorts programmer Brighid Wheeler has curated an excellent program of narrative, documentary, experimental, animation and music videos. Those films, along with our previously announced classic films, and the best work from our talented local filmmakers look to make this event a real treat for all of the film fans that attend Indie Memphis this year.”

Prichard Smith uncovers the history and significance of the often-overlooked group that radicalized generations of civil rights activists in his documentary THE INVADERS, detailing their surprising behind- the-scenes involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the pivotal days leading up to his assassination. This special event features appearances by the original members of The Invaders and executive producer Craig Brewer for two festival screenings of a film that could not be timelier considering current events in the country. Stephen John Ross’s KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE will close out the film festival in style. The title translated as “I Lived for Art” details the famed Memphis opera singer’s struggles and comeback. In a special treat for the Indie Memphis audience, Esperian will perform with Gary Beard following the screening of the film.

The Narrative and Documentary Spotlight sections read like a “must-see” list of 2016 film festival cinema. On the narrative side, titles include Sophia Takal’s drama, ALWAYS SHINE, about a personality struggle to the breaking point between two actress friends in Big Sur; Kelly Reichardt’s latest, CERTAIN WOMEN, about three strong-willed women (Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Michelle Williams) striving to forge their own paths amidst the wide-open plains of the American Northwest; Zach Clark’s LITTLE SISTER, about a Goth-loving nun coming home to visit her brother who has shut off after returning from the Iraq war with disfiguring burns; Kenneth Lonergan’s MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, about a man (Casey Affleck) still recovering from a personal tragedy and forced to care for his young nephew; and Jim Jarmusch’s PATERSON, about a New Jersey bus driver (Adam Driver) with a gift for poetry.

Documentary Spotlight features include Kirsten Johnson’s sublime CAMERAPERSON, which investigates what it means to film and be filmed; Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules’s MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE, about Angelou’s life and how she helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism; David Farrier and Dylan Reeve’s TICKLED, about Farrier’s investigation into the bizarre world of “competitive endurance tickling”; and Keith Maitland’s TOWER, about the 1966 sniper shooting at the University of Texas.

Indie Memphis’s Hometowner Competition features five films making world premieres, including Mike McCarthy’s DESTROY MEMPHIS, the story of the grassroots organization “Save Libertyland” that gathered in a Midtown Memphis dining room in 2005 to fight then-Mayor Willie Herenton’s efforts to close the amusement park due to an operating deficit; Kathy Lofton’s I AM A CAREGIVER, which looks at the day-to-day challenges faced by family caregivers; Madsen Minax’s KAIROS DIRT & THE ERRANT VACUUM, about a gay middle school lunch woman and a gender ambiguous student who have an unclear intergenerational relationship; Flo Gibbs’s MENTALITY: GIRLS LIKE US, which follows the stories of three lesbian students and one transgender student; and Lakethen Mason’s VERGE, which focuses on the young careers of seven indie artists pursuing their dreams in Memphis.

Making its U.S. premiere will be Jennifer Anderson and Vernon Lott’s THE ACT OF BECOMING, which looks at the surprising success of John Williams’s 1965 novel Stoner that sold fewer than 2,000 copies and was quickly out-of-print before becoming a worldwide bestseller.

Films selected for the Narrative Competition, include Musa Syeed’s A STRAY, Joshua H. Miller and Miles B. Miller’s ALL THE BIRDS HAVE FLOWN SOUTH, Xander Robin’s ARE WE NOT CATS, Deb Shoval’s AWOL, Tim Sutton’s DARK NIGHT, and Ryon Baxter’s GREEN/IS/GOLD.

Documentary Competition selections include Jennifer Anderson and Vernon Lott’s THE ACT OF BECOMING, Billy Woodberry’s AND WHEN I DIE, I WON’T STAY DEAD, Kathlyn Horan’s THE IF PROJECT, Maisie Crow’s JACKSON, Cecilia Aldarondo’s MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART, and David Shapiro’s MISSING PEOPLE.

Venues span from primary sites in Midtown and Downtown Memphis to new satellite venues in East Memphis and Collierville. With the support of Marquee Sponsors Amazon Studios, AutoZone, and Malco Theatres, Indie Memphis will once again present its unique and diverse slate of programming throughout the weeklong format that was successful last year, contributing to the largest film attendance in the history of the festival.

Passes are now on sale and information on the film festival can be found at IndieMemphis.com.


The 2016 Indie Memphis Film Festival official selections include:

OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
THE INVADERS Regional Premiere
Director: Prichard Smith
Country: USA, Running Time: 76min
Inspired by militant black leaders like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, a new, radicalized generation of civil rights activists made up of young college students, Vietnam vets, musicians, and intellectuals emerged in Memphis in 1967. The Invaders espoused Black Power and, when pushed, did not limit themselves to non-violence. Prichard Smith uncovers the history and significance of the often- overlooked group, detailing their surprising behind-the-scenes involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the pivotal days leading up to his assassination.

CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION
KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE
Director: Steven John Ross
Country: USA, Running Time: 64min
KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE profiles the famed Memphis soprano, chronicling her struggles and successes as she worked to reignite her career following a dark and difficult period in her life and career. Overcoming a divorce, depression, extreme weight fluctuations, physical injury and even, brain surgery were among the challenges that stood before Esperian as she made her way back.


NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT

ALWAYS SHINE Regional Premiere
Director: Sophia Takal
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
Two women (Caitlin FitzGerald and Mackenzie Smith), both actresses with differing degrees of success, travel north from Los Angeles to Big Sur for a weekend vacation in ALWAYS SHINE, Sophia Takal’s terse psycho drama. Reconnecting in the wake of years of competition has driven them apart, upon arrival to their isolated, forest retreat, the pair discovers that their friendship has devolved into belittlements both real and imagined, a deep mutual revulsion that threatens to slide into mania as identities become fluid and hard to discern. An Oscilloscope Laboratories release.



CERTAIN WOMEN
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Country: USA, Running Time: 107min
Director Kelly Reichardt introduces us to a bevy of remarkable characters in her newest effort, a triptych of dovetailing stories: a lawyer (Laura Dern), who finds herself juggling office mansplaining and a hostage crisis; a young married woman (Michelle Williams), whose desire to build a home puts her in conflict with the men in her world; and a law student (Kristin Stewart), who begins an ambiguous emotional bond with a lonely young rancher (Lily Gladstone). An IFC Films Release.

DONALD CRIED
Director: Khristopher Avedisian
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
Peter Latang left his working class Rhode Island town to reinvent himself as a slick, Wall Street character. Fifteen years later, when he's forced to return home to bury his Grandmother, he loses his wallet on the trip. Stuck, the only person who comes to his aid is his next door neighbor and former childhood friend, Donald Treebeck, played with aplomb by director Avedisian. What begins as a small favor turns into a long, dark ride into their shared past. Released by The Orchard.

LITTLE MEN
Director: Ira Sachs
Country: USA, Running Time: 90min
LITTLE MEN explores the deepening friendship between two artistic boys whose families enter into a heated and escalating battle over the rent of their shared brownstone in a quickly gentrifying Brooklyn. Jake (Theo Taplitz) is the son of Brian (Greg Kinnear) and Kathy (Jennifer Ehle), who move into the upstairs of a brownstone they inherit; Tony (Michael Barbieri) is the son of immigrant seamstress Leonor (Paulina García), who’s been renting the store on the ground floor for several years. When a battle over rent sharpens, the boys—rather than splitting along lines of family loyalty—give the adults the silent treatment and continue to forge their own bond. A Magnolia Pictures release.

LITTLE SISTER Tennessee Premiere
Director: Zack Clark
Country: USA, Running Time: 91min
In Zach Clark’s fifth feature Colleen (Addison Timlin) is a young nun in Brooklyn who returns to her North Carolina hometown in the wake of her brother’s return from the ongoing Iraq War. Reconnecting with her Goth past and struggling to be of much help to her zany, war scarred family, the film is marked by wonderful performances from Timlin, Ally Sheedy as her mother and Keith Paulson as her disfigured brother. Set in October 2008, just on the brink of President Obama’s inauguration, LITTLE SISTER is a sad comedy about a recovering family in a recovering country that is marked by Clark’s characteristic brand of heightened, distorted realism. A Forager Films release.

Preceded by:
DOGSBODY
Director: Josh Crockett
Country: USA, Running Time: 7:16min
The job hunt takes a strange turn for Renée when she visits the home of a wealthy potential employer.




THE LOVE WITCH Tennessee Premiere
Director: Anna Billar
Country: USA, Running Time: 120min
A modern-day witch uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her, in a tribute to 1960s pulp novels and Technicolor melodramas. Elaine, a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her gothic Victorian apartment, she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. However, her spells work too well, and she ends up with a string of hapless victims. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved drives her to the brink of insanity and murder. An Oscilloscope Laboratories release.

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA Tennessee Premiere
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Country: USA, Running Time: 135min
Kenneth Lonergan’s nuanced and involving third feature MANCHESTER BY THE SEA probes into the life of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a haunted, nearly mute janitor who following his more stable older brother’s sudden death must confront a terrible corner of his past in their small New England hometown. An Amazon Studios Release.

PATERSON
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Country: USA, Running Time: 115min
Long standing indie stalwart Jarmusch’s PATERSON is a drolly humorous drama about a week in the life of a New Jersey bus driver, played by Adam Driver, who is also a very serious poet working toward his first book, a quietly committed husband, and a technological philistine. He writes all of his poems longhand, in a small notebook, in the context that so many of the great poets have forged their art: while working at a day job. An Amazon Studios Release.


DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHT

CAMERAPERSON
Director: Kirsten Johnson
Country: USA, Running Time: 103min
A boxing match at Barclays Center; Bosnia and Herzegovina in its post war malaise; the daily comings and goings of a Nigerian midwife; the meanderings of a family member with ravaged with Alzheimer's: these scenes and others are woven into CAMERAPERSON, a tapestry of footage captured over the twenty-five-year career of documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. Through a series of episodic juxtapositions, Johnson explores the relationships between image makers and their subjects, the tension between the objectivity and intervention of the camera, and the complex interaction of unfiltered reality and crafted narrative. A Janus Films Release.

CHICKEN PEOPLE
Director: Nicole Lucas Haimes
Country: USA, Running Time: 83min
CHICKEN PEOPLE follows the trials and tribulations of those who breed exotic birds in the world of competitive poultry. In the tradition of Spellbound comes a feature documentary about three remarkably rich and diverse personalities who come together to compete in their shared passion to raise the perfect chicken. The film will follow the struggles and triumphs of these characters, along with a wide array of competitors-both human and chicken-from the Ohio National Poultry Show, considered the Westminster of Chickens, to the Dixie Classic in Tennessee. A Samuel Goldwyn Pictures release.

Preceded by
PICKLE
Director: Amy Nicholson
Country: USA, Running Time: 16min
A couple recounts the various animals they have adopted as pets over the course of their marriage, including a paraplegic possum and a fish that couldn’t swim. PICKLE explores the human capacity to care for all creatures throughout their sometimes greatly protracted lives until their occasionally sudden and unfortunate deaths. An Oscilloscope Laboratories Release.

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO Regional Premiere
Director: Raoul Peck
Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
In 1979, James Baldwin wrote his literary agent describing what turned out to be his last unrealized book, Remember This House. The book would be an account of the lives and murders of three of his friends — Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X. Baldwin only produced 30 pages before dying in 1987. Haitian director Raoul Peck reclaims James Baldwin’s quest, using Baldwin’s own words from the existing manuscript to engage with the deeper connections between the lives and assassinations of these three men and America’s irrational relationship with race. A Magnolia Pictures Release

MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE
Directors: Rita Coburn Whack, Bob Hercules
Country: USA, Running Time: 114min
In MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE, entertainers, politicians, journalists, and editors speak to the legacy of Dr. Angelou as an author and thinker, teacher and friend, mentor and activist. Mixing archival footage and interviews with a star studded cast including Bill & Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Guy Johnson, the film explores Angelou’s childhood in Stamps, Alabama, her varied literary accomplishments. Meditating on her relationships with slain civil rights leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King as well as her importance to the feminist movement, MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE is a stirring portrait of an essential American artist. An American Masters PBS release.

MIDSUMMER IN NEWTON Regional Premiere
Director: Lloyd Kramer
Country: USA, Running Time: 81min
After the Sandy Hook tragedy, a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes to Newtown, Connecticut in hopes of providing some solace to the community following the school shooting. In auditions and read-throughs and dress rehearsals, Kramer glimpses the children finding catharsis through performance, while also visiting a family who has used their grief to record a jazz album in their dead daughter’s honor. A meditation on the healing force of artistry in the face of unspeakable trauma, MIDSUMMER IN NEWTON looks at the aftermath of the tragedy visited upon this community in a hopeful, previously unforeseen light.

TICKLED
Directors: David Farrier, Dylan Reeve
Country: USA, Running Time: 92min
Young men are paid to be tied up and tickled in “competitive endurance tickling” online events. After seeing a video of this oddball phenomena, reporter David Farrier tries to write a story about the company and discovers, after significant harassment, uncovers a vast empire of hidden Los Angeles tickling facilities. In this increasingly strange tale, the ominous threats begin to pile up as Farrier and co-director Dylan Reeve discover the dark rabbit hole of interlocking, increasingly sinister tickling organizations. A Magnolia Pictures release.

TOWER
Director: Keith Maitland
Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
On August 1st, 1966, a sniper climbed to the top floor of the University of Texas at Austin’s Tower and began firing, holding the entire area hostage for 96 terse minutes in what was, at the time, a completely unprecedented event. TOWER uses rotoscopic animation to recreate the events of the horrific day, based on haunting first person testimonies from those who lived through it in a gripping and aesthetically masterful evocation of the confusion and terror that descended on the Texas capital that fateful day. A Kino Lorber Release


NARRATIVE COMPETITION

ALL THE BIRDS HAVE FLOWN SOUTH Tennessee Premiere
Directors: Joshua H. Miller, Miles B. Miller
Country: USA, Running Time: 98min
In this subtly off-kilter and eventually terrifying thriller, Stephen (Paul Sparks) spends the fortnight after his mother’s death obsessively collecting dolls, taking care of his pet bird, insinuating himself into the life of a chain-smoking, down-on-her-luck waitress (Joey Lauren Adams) and her abusive, bed-ridden husband.

ARE WE NOT CATS Tennessee Premiere
Director: Xander Robin
Country: USA, Running Time: 77min
New Yorker Eli (Michael Patrick Nicholson) loses his girlfriend, home, and job in less than 24 hours. After landing a job transporting car parts upstate to make some quick cash, he meets Anya (Chelsea Lopez), a young woman who shares his fetish for eating hair. In this gorgeously lensed oddball debut of Xander Robin, expanded from his celebrated short film, a slow building, nerve-racking body horror plot is rapped in the concerns of indie rom coms, with potentially grotesque situations giving way to oddly heartwarming moments of mutual appreciation among these two subterranean New York outliers.

Preceded by:
THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG
Director: Ursula Ellis
Country: USA, Running Time: 10:06min
In this expressionistic coming-of-age film, two self-alienated teenage girls with a Wikipedia-based understanding of punk rock music attend their first live show with some unexpected and potentially long-lasting consequences.

A STRAY Regional Premiere
Director: Musa Syeed
Country: USA, Running Time: 82min
Accused of stealing and kicked out of his home by his mother, Adan (Barkhad Abdirahman), a young Somali refugee in Minneapolis, goes to his Mosque to find an answer. He prays for a good friend to be there for him and soon he finds his companion in a stray dog he hits with his car. Desperately searching for a new place to call home, Adan soon begins to understand the limits of ethnic and religious solidarity in Musa Saeed’s unforgettably moving odyssey.

AWOL Tennessee Premiere
Director: Deb Shoval
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
Wanting to afford college and finally get out of her Pennsylvania rustbelt town, recent high school grad Joey (Lola Kirke) enlists in the US Army. Her path seems set in stone until she meets Rayna (Breda Wool), a married mother of two. Their love is immediate and too intense to ignore. As economic and social realities bear down on them, Joey sees only one dangerous option: she and Rayna must go AWOL.

DARK NIGHT Regional Premiere
Director: Tim Sutton
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
Loosely based on the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings of 2012, in which a gunman killed 12 and wounded 70 moviegoers attending a screening of Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, Tim Sutton’s DARK NIGHT oscillates between the lives and perspectives of several people whose fates will collide in tragic fashion, elliptically circling the unspeakable event and in the process forcing the viewer to ruminate upon violence and spectatorship.

GREEN/IS/GOLD Regional Premiere
Director: Ryon Baxter
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
In Northern California, thirteen-year old Mason (Jimmy Baxter) is forced to leave his home when his father goes to prison, and to go live with his older brother Cameron (Ryon Baxter), a marijuana farmer. Having been estranged from Cameron for quite some time, Mason must learn how to adjust to his new living situation and surroundings while Cameron attempts to balance making his illegal living with the newfound responsibility of taking care of his little brother. Ryon Baxter writes, directs, edits, and co-stars in this engaging, modern spin on a coming-of-age tale for the medical marijuana generation. A Samuel Goldwyn Films release.


DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

THE ACT OF BECOMING U.S. Premiere
Directors: Jennifer Anderson, Vernon Lott
Country: USA, Running Time: 61min
Upon its initial publication, John Williams’ 1965 novel Stoner sold fewer than 2,000 copies. Just one year later, it was out of print and soon all but forgotten. Remarkably, fifty years later, Stoner has gone on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide. THE ACT OF BECOMING seeks to uncover the reasons behind its newfound success as it explores how the novel has moved so many people.

Preceded by
BRILLO BOX (3¢ OFF)
Director: Lisanne Skyler
Country: USA, Running Time: 44min
In 1969, Lisanne Skyler’s parents bought a Warhol Brillo Box for $1,000. In 2010, it fetched 3,000,000. BRILLO BOX (3¢ OFF) is the story of what happened in between.


AND WHEN I DIE, I WON’T STAY DEAD Regional Premiere
Director: Billy Woodberry
Country: USA, Running Time: 89min
A surrealist who drew comparisons to Arthur Rimbaud, Bob Kaufman was the most prominent African-American amongst the beat poets, a writer who’s jazz inflected work found legend in San Francisco and fame in France. An impressionistic portrait of the under heralded writer that weaves his tale through testimonials from those who knew him and recitations of his landmark poetry, AND WHEN I DIE, I WON’T STAY DEAD marks the triumphant cinematic return of Billy Woodberry, one of the LA Rebellion’s foundational figures, after three decades away from the director’s chair.

THE IF PROJECT Tennessee Premiere
Director: Kathlyn Horan
Country: USA, Running Time: 88min
In 2008, 28 year police veteran, Kim Bogucki, visited the prison to bridge the gap between mothers in prison and their daughters living on the outside. She posed the question, “If there was something someone could have said or done to change the path that led you here what would it have been?” Through various writing exercises, the women were challenged to open up about their past, take accountability for their actions, grow together and most of all, forgive themselves.

JACKSON Tennessee Premiere
Director: Maisie Crow
Country: USA, Running Time: 90min
Set against the backdrop of the fight over the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, this film is an intimate, first-of-its-kind look inside the issues surrounding abortion through three women who stand on all sides of this debate and live at a turning point for reproductive healthcare in America. As it follows Shannon Brewer, the director of Jackson Women's Health Organization, Barbara Beavers, the leader of the anti-abortion movement in Mississippi and April Jackson, a young mother of four children faced with another unplanned pregnancy, the complexity of this always hot button issue comes to the fore in compelling and unexpected ways.

MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART Tennessee Premiere
Director: Cecilia Aldarondo
Country: USA, Running Time: 77min
Twenty-five years after her uncle died of AIDS, filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo, attempts to uncover the unresolved family skeletons surrounding his death. Despite an ostensibly rewarding career and love life, in his final days he struggled to reconcile his homosexuality with his Puerto Rican Catholic upbringing. Now, two dozen years later, Cecilia finds her uncle’s Caucasian lover, who has been ignored and demeaned by the family, and begins to question what actually happened to her uncle in the 1980s.

MISSING PEOPLE Tennessee Premiere
Director: David Shapiro
Country: USA, Running Time: 76min
Gripping and multi-layered, David Shapiro’s MISSING PEOPLE is a nonfiction mystery about Martina Batan, former director of the Ronald Feldman gallery, who investigates her brother's long unsolved murder, while obsessively collecting and researching the violent work and life of an outsider artist from New Orleans. As these parallel narratives intertwine, unforeseen events unfold, shedding new light on the nature of obsession and the difficulty of letting go.


SOUNDS COMPETITION

CONTEMPORARY COLOR Tennessee Premiere
Directors: Bill Ross, Turner Ross
Country: USA, Running Time: 107min
The newest film from the Ross Brothers, CONTEMPORARY COLOR chronicles the one night only concert event of the same name held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York in 2015 which paired popular alternative artists with the twirling flags of ten high school color guard troupes. Featuring performances by artists such as David Byrne, St. Vincent, Lucius and Nelly Furtado, who all wrote new songs exclusively for this event, the film oscillates between onstage and offstage action while providing ample time for the tightly choreographed, expressive dance routines that accompany the musicians to shine. An Oscilloscope Laboratories release.

GIP Tennessee Premiere
Director: Patrick Sheehan
Country: USA, Running Time: 73min
"Henry "Gip " Gipson lives an interesting life. Gravedigger, railroad worker, passionate blues player and owner of "Gip's Place"; an authentic, old fashioned juke joint he's been running out of his home for 60 years. At 92 years old, Gip is not just reveling in the past, but actively keeping a culture alive; GIP is preserving the spirit of blues and roots music, and keeping it tied to his heritage, as it is one of the few surviving authentic juke joints around. For Gip, and the community around him, it's not just music, but a veritable institution of black history, while also drawing diverse crowds and providing raucous entertainment for the community surrounding it. After Gip's Place is shut down for noise complaints, Gip fights to keep his establishment open and the community rallies behind him in a valiant effort to keep the music, and history, alive. Patrick Sheehan's GIP not only provides an incredible look into a both a man dedicated to his roots, but also of the community that embraces him, and refuses to let their culture be silenced.

Preceded by:
THE ARKANSAS WILD MAN
Director: Nathan Willis
Country: USA, Running Time: 18:38min
An 87-year-old rock and roll pioneer who lives a life of obscurity in his small Arkansas hometown travels overseas to England to play one final concert for his passionate and loyal fan base there.

GOODNIGHT BROOKLYN: THE STORY OF DEATH BY AUDIO Tennessee Premiere
Director: Matthew Conboy
Country: USA, Running Time: 82min
GOODNIGHT BROOKLYN: THE STORY OF DEATH BY AUDIO brings viewers inside the last underground venue for music and art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood once defined by its cultural contributions to the city of New York. The feature length film chronicles the origins, community-building, influence and ultimate closure of one of Brooklyn's best DIY venues, ironically at the hands of a former champion of their efforts.

Preceded by
GOOD WHITE PEOPLE
Directors: Erick Stoll, Jared Welling-Cann
Country: USA, Running Time: 15:40min
GOOD WHITE PEOPLE follows Reginald Stroud Sr. as he and his family are forced from their home in Cincinnati, Ohio to make way for luxury condos, high end bars, and art galleries.

I AM THE BLUES Tennessee Premiere
Director: Daniel Cross
Country: USA, Running Time: 107min
I AM THE BLUES takes the audience on a musical journey through the swamps of the Louisiana Bayou, the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta and Moonshine soaked BBQs in the North Mississippi Hill Country. Visiting the last original blues devils, many in their 80’s, still living in the deep south, working without management and touring the Chitlin’ Circuit. Let Bobby Rush, Barbara Lynn, Henry Gray, Carol Fran, Lazy Lester, Bilbo Walker, RL Boyce, Jimmy ’Duck’ Holmes, Lil Buck Sinegal, LC Ulmer and their friends awaken the blues in all of us.


DEPARTURES COMPETITION

JACQUELINE (ARGENTINE) Regional Premiere
Director: Bernardo Britto
Country: USA, Running Time: 89min
At once a low-fi travelogue and a sendup of the Edward Snowden affair, the first feature from celebrated young animator and director Bernardo Britto stars the comedian Wyatt Cenac (The Daily Show, MEDICINE FOR MELACHOLY), follows an experimental filmmaker of some note who hopes to cross over with a more commercially minded feature. When a strange woman from Argentina begins to contact him claiming to have potentially world altering information she would like to use him as a conduit for releasing, the movie takes a formally adventurous turn, increasingly blending documentary aesthetics and spy movie clichés in a way that proves playful and philosophically probing.

LOVETRUE Regional Premiere
Director: Alma Har’el
Country: USA, Running Time: 82min
Seeking to deconstruct the myth of true love, filmmaker Alma Har’el glimpses with her inimitable lyricism three relationships in disparate parts of the country and at different point in life. Scored by the remarkable Flying Lotus, LOVETRUE creates a phantasmagorical blend of intimate verite and staged scenes reflecting on the past, present, and future of her characters. From Hawaii and New York City Har’el captures intimate moments that point toward the ways in which notions of love define and disappoint us.

Preceded by:
COUNT
Director: Jason Evans
Country: USA, Running Time: 13min
In the casino resort town of Atlantic City, a troubled, out-of-work performer obsessively delves into his onstage persona, at the risk of his sanity.

MA Tennessee Premiere
Director: Celia Rowlson-Hall
Country: USA, Running Time: 80min
In this modern-day vision of Mother Mary's pilgrimage, a woman crosses the scorched landscape of the American Southwest. Reinvented and told entirely through movement, the film playfully deconstructs the role of this woman, who encounters a world full of bold characters that are alternately terrifying and sublime. MA is a journey into the visceral and the surreal, interweaving ritual, performance, and the body as sculpture. The absence of dialogue stirs the senses, and leads us to imagine a new ending to this familiar journey. The virgin mother gives birth to our savior, but is also challenged to save herself. A Factory 25 Release.

Preceded by
GOSPEL MIME
Director: Whitney Mallett
Country: USA, Running Time: 5:45min
The lyrical short, which features cinematography by Jason Harvey and a score by Philip Karneef, takes a look at the religious subculture of miming for Jesus.

SLACKJAW Regional Premiere
Director: Zach Weintraub
Country: USA, Running Time: 70min
A pair of pacific northwestern hipsters, Rob (Robert Malone) and Austyn (Weintraub) in the midst of a broader altercation between their tight knit slacker community and a powerful Orwellian corporation called EvCorp. The two of them, against the wishes of their friends who are expressed aligned against this mysterious new entity in town, apply to take part in EvCorp’s ongoing medical experiments for a quick $10,000. What follows is not just a stylized, quirky comedy but a madcap, genre-bending satire of our increasingly paranoid times.


HOMETOWNER COMPETITION

BAD, BAD MEN Regional Premiere
Directors: Brad Ellis, Allen C. Gardner
Country: USA, Running Time: 83min
After being taunted at a coffee shop, a timid young man enlists his two best friends to help him track his newfound bully down and put him in his place. They do just that, but misguided machismo then fuels an ensuing battle of wills. From the filmmakers of BEING AWESOME, and DAYLIGHT FADES.

DESTROY MEMPHIS World Premiere
Director: Mike McCarthy
Country: USA, Running Time: 120min
DESTROY MEMPHIS is the story of the grassroots organization calling itself “Save Libertyland” who gathered in a Midtown Memphis dining room in 2005 in order to fight then-Mayor Willie Herenton’s efforts to close the amusement park due to an operating deficit. The core members consisted of musicians in the all-girl punk band, The Zippin Pippins, who took their name from Elvis’s favorite ride at Libertyland. Ten years in the making, DESTROY MEMPHIS showcases citizen coalition movements which almost certainly put the brakes on Mayor A. C. Wharton’s plan to turn the Memphis Fairgrounds into a Tourist Development Zone devoted to mostly private retail and private ballparks.

Preceded by:
TAV FALCO: MAKE ME KNOW YOU’RE MINE
Directors: JP Olsen, Kristen Nutile
Country: USA, Running time: 13min
Musician, writer and filmmaker, Tav Falco, started his life of art and discovery as the assistant to acclaimed photographer William Eggleston and then went on to found transgressive rock and roll bands with the likes of Alex Chilton. For over 30 years, Falco has toured the world as a free-wheelin' entertainer and art provocateur who, at the age of 72, shows no signs of letting up. Filmmakers JP Olsen and Kristen Nutile follow Falco as he kicks off his 2015 North American tour, supported by punk rock icon Mike Watt on bass and Iggy Pop's drummer, Toby Dammit.


I AM A CAREGIVER World Premiere
Director: Kathy Lofton
Country: USA, Running Time: 59min
I AM A CAREGIVER focuses on the nuances and challenges faced by family caregivers. An under explored and vitally crucial part of our health care delivery system, the film explores the experiences of those who directly care for our sickest, most disabled citizens, showcasing the difficulty of their works from a variety of different vantage points.

KAIROS DIRT & THE ERRANT VACUUM World Premiere
Director: Madsen Minax
Country: USA, Running Time: 97min
A queer middle school lunch lady and a gender ambiguous student have an unclear intergenerational relationship. Through strangely erotic and mystically profound dreams, she personifies the student as a genderless apparition from an alternate space-time.

MENTALITY: GIRLS LIKE US World Premiere
Director: Flo Gibbs
Country: USA, Running Time: 99min
The stories of three lesbian studs and one “FTM” who is going through gender transition. They are each coming to terms with sexual orientation and gender identity in a world where discrimination is prevalent against women who don’t fit into a mold of femininity. The participants in this documentary live a life that is subjected to judgment, bias and an abundance of scrutiny for being who they are. Although there have been many changes in laws for the LGBTQ community, they are still met with partiality.

VERGE World Premiere
Director: Lakethen Mason
Country: USA, Running Time: 62min
The young careers of 7 indie artists pursuing their dreams in the most famous music city in the world: Memphis. Nick, Faith, Marco, Brennan, Kyndle, Black Rock Revival, and Keia will take us on their own personal journey of discovery, dedication, and determination to achieve success in music. This documentary further witnesses the day-to-day challenges that artists, musicians, and producers face in remaining steadfast in the pursuit of their dream. Yet there is a realization among each of them that there is no other vocation in life that can genuinely satisfy their emotional and physical need than to be on stage, or write that timeless composition that changes the universe, and provides that raw emotion that keeps them on the VERGE, On The Brink, On The Cusp of...

Preceded by:
JIMBO MATHUS: FINDING YOUR ROOTS
Director: Geoffrey Shrewsbury
Country: USA, Running Time: 13:50min
Film is a brief glimpse into the life of Mississippi musician, Jimbo Mathus. Hang out with Jimbo as he takes the stage at the Hill Country Picnic and talks about his musical background: from picking guitar on camping trips with his family, through appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman with his former band, The Squirrel Nut Zippers.


PIONEERS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CINEMA

THE BLOOD OF JESUS (1941)
Director: Spencer Williams
Country: USA, Running Time: 58min
Small-town residents pray for a miracle after a newly baptized woman is accidentally shot by her sinful husband.

BODY & SOUL (1925)
Director: Oscar Micheaux
Country: USA, Running Time: 102min
Directed by the legendary African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, BODY & SOUL is a direct critique of the power of the cloth, casting Robeson in dual roles as a jackleg preacher and a well-meaning inventor.

HELLBOUND TRAIN (1930)
Director: James Gist
Country: USA, Running Time: 60min
HELLBOUND TRAIN comprises a series of vignettes of “sinful” acts, any of which could book you a spot on that locomotive to perdition: Women deceiving their husbands; gamblers and tipplers; crooked men conducting illicit business; and insolent children disrespecting their parents make up the passenger list. At the end of each scene a character dies, and a round man in a form-fitting devil suit hops off a train and does a little jig as he accepts a new passenger.

SYMBOL OF THE UNCONQUERED (1920)
Director: Oscar Micheaux
Country: USA, Running Time: 54min
In this silent film, Eve Mason (Iris Hall) learns of her grandfather's death, leaves her small Southern town and travels west to inspect her newly-inherited land. With help from her neighbor, Hugh Van Allen (Walker Thompson), she arrives at her grandfather's homestead. When the self-loathing Jefferson Driscoll (Lawrence Chenault) learns that Van Allen's property sits atop a vast oil reserve, he teams up with a group of unsavory criminals to threaten Mason and force Van Allen off his land.


SPECIAL PRESENTATION

THE DELTA (1996)
Director: Ira Sachs
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
THE DELTA follows Lincoln, a 17-year old boy leads a straight life most of the time: he has a girlfriend, goes to dances, jokes with guys. But he also has a secret life, in which he's drawn to men he doesn't know. One night, while visiting a gay video arcade, he connects with John, a Vietnamese-born gay man, in his 20s probably, whose father was an African-American US soldier. John invites Lincoln to spend some carefree time with him, which leads the two to take Lincoln’s father’s boat into the Mississippi delta, where setting off some fireworks out of season precipitates betrayal and revenge.

MAN ON THE MOON (1999)
Director: Miloš Forman
Country: USA, Running Time:119min
Jim Carrey stars as the late Andy Kaufman, who was considered one of the most innovative, eccentric and enigmatic performers of his time. A master at manipulating audiences, Kaufman could generate belly laughs, stony silence, tears or brawls. Whether inviting the audience out for milk and cookies or challenging women to inter-gender wrestling matches, he specialized in creating performances so real that even his close friends were never sure where the truth lay.

THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT (1996)
Director: Miloš Forman
Country: USA, Running Time: 129min
Pursued by opponents who say his "Hustler" magazine breaks decency laws, pornographer Larry Flynt (Woody Harrelson) hires lawyer Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton) to help fight his legal battles. A zealot shoots the men near a Georgia courthouse, and though Flynt discovers he'll never walk again, his fighting spirit -- like his love for stripper Althea Leasure (Courtney Love) -- stays strong. Ultimately, the unlikely free speech warrior takes his biggest case to a showdown at the Supreme Court.


HOMETOWNER SPECIAL PRESENTATION

FREE IN DEED
Director: Jake Mahaffy
Country: USA, Running Time 100min
Set in the distinctive world of storefront churches, and based on actual events, FREE IN DEED depicts one man's attempts to perform a miracle for a young mother and her son battling a seemingly incurable illness. However, for the lonely Pentecostal minister confronting his own demons as well, it seems the more he prays, the more things seem to spiral out of his control.

OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
THE INVADERS Regional Premiere
Director: Prichard Smith

CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION
KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE
Director: Steven John Ross

[I have removed the list of short titles because it was a long list of just the titles. please check www.indiememphis.com for details]


ABOUT INDIE MEMPHIS
Through diverse year-round programming, a world-class annual festival, and on-going efforts to include new voices, new media, and new audiences, Indie Memphis is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which enriches, inspires, and connects the Memphis community while cultivating interest in, and development of, independent film. For additional information, or for details about membership, visit www.indiememphis.com or call (901) 214-5171.